Academic drama

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Academic drama refers to a theatrical movement that emerged in the mid 16th century during the Renaissance. Dedicated to the study of classical dramas for the purpose of higher education, universities in England began to produce the plays of Sophocles, Euripides, and Seneca the Younger (among others) in the Greek and Roman languages, as well as neoclassical dramas. These classical and neoclassical productions were performed by young scholars at universities in Cambridge and Oxford.[1] Other European countries, such as Spain and Italy adapted classical plays into a mixture of Latin and vernacular dramas. These Spanish and Italian adaptations were used in teaching morals in schools and colleges.[2] The intellectual development of dramas in schools, universities, and Inns of Court in Europe allowed the emergence of the great playwrights of the late 16th century.[3]

Academic drama at Oxford University[edit]

Hall of Christ Church, Oxford

The history of academic drama at Oxford University may be traced back to the mid 16th century. While there are records indicating dramatic performances were performed prior, dramatic production greatly increased in the 16th century.[4] Academic dramas were performed in Christ Church and St. John's College at Oxford.[5] The plays produced at Oxford were originally written in Latin, based on classical models. Used to teach playwriting and acting, these plays were written by both the students and instructors. In performance, audiences typically consisted of fellow students, though visits from royalty occasionally occurred. Among these royals were Queen Elizabeth I and King James I.[6]

It is evident that academic drama at Oxford was highly regarded as a crucial part of the educational experience. The university covered all performance expenses. Additionally, no entrance fees were charged.[7]

Academic drama at Cambridge University[edit]

St. John's College, Cambridge, England-LCCN2002696460

In producing academic drama, the colleges at Cambridge University were decidedly confined to performing Latin works. When Queen Elizabeth I sent requests to both Cambridge and Oxford requesting the performance of an English comedy, she was met with a decline from Cambridge. Cambridge replied they did not use plays in English.[8] However, it must be noted that though Cambridge did not indulge the Queen with an English comedy, they were not opposed to neo-Latin comedies. The majority of surviving English neo-Latin university dramas were performed at Cambridge.[9] Performances at Cambridge were in Latin[10] and the material of choice was the classics. Folios found at St. John's at Cambridge show records of costumes housed for performances. It is believed these costumes were used in the acting of classical works by Aristophanes and Terence, as well as in morality plays.[11]

Academic drama at the Inns of Court[edit]

The Inns of Court are referred to as the third university of England.[12] Inns of Court were where practicing lawyers and law students gathered to eat, socialize, gain legal education, board, and be entertained. There were four of these Inns of Court: Gray's Inn, Inner Temple, Lincoln's Inn, and Middle Temple.[13] In contrast to Cambridge and Oxford, who produced theatre as a literary study, the London Inns of Court produced theatre as a means of entertainment.[14] Beginning around 1587, the Inns of Court produced masques and revels, yet another contrast from the Oxford and Cambridge plays.[15] Until the end of the 17th century, these performances typically took the form of masques written by law students at the Inns of Court. Once the Inns of Court transitioned from masques to plays, the so-called third university served as a cradle for classical English drama. Eventually, by the early 17th century, writers such as Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare began producing English comedies at the Inns of Court, thus expanding the range of materials performed.[16] After 1614, the masques were written and designed by professionals; simultaneously the new emerging dramas were written and performed by professional theatre practitioners.[17] Due to the close proximity to the English court, nobility frequently attended the performances at the Inns of Court.[18]

Classical drama performed[edit]

Academic drama was formed as an educational tool, not only to advance the arts, but to teach classical literature and language. Key subject matter for performance were classical dramas of ancient Greece and Rome. Prominent playwrights whose works were performed as part of the academic drama tradition include Aristophanes, Plautus, Seneca the younger, and Terrence.

Play Playwright Date Performed Location of Performance Language
Plutus Aristophanes 1536 St. John's, Cambridge Greek
Pax Aristophanes 1546 Trinity, Cambridge Greek
Poenulus Plautus 1549 Queens', Cambridge Latin
Troades Seneca the younger 1551-2 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Menaechmi Plautus 1551-2 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Stichus Plautus 1544 Queens', Cambridge Latin
a commedie Plautus 1557 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Oedipus Seneca the younger 1559–60 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Mostellaria Plautus 1559–60 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Hecuba (play) Seneca the younger 1559–60 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Amphitruo Plautus 1560-1 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Troades Seneca the younger 1560-1 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Medea Seneca the younger 1560-1 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Adelphi Terence 1562-3 Jesus, Cambridge Latin
Curculio (play) Plautus 1562-3 Jesus, Cambridge Latin
Pseudolus Plautus 1562-3 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Adelphi Terence 1562-3 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Phormio (play) Terence 1562-3 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Medea Seneca the younger 1563 Queens', Cambridge Latin
Eunuchus Terence 1563-4 Jesus, Cambridge Latin
Trinummus Plautus 1563-4 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Bacchides (play) Plautus 1563-4 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Aulularia Plautus 1563-4 King's, Cambridge Latin
Stichus Plautus 1564-5 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Menaechmi Plautus 1565-6 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Eunuchus Terence 1566-7 Merton, Oxford Latin
Menaechmi Plautus 1567-8 Merton, Oxford Latin
Bacchides (play) Plautus 1579 Jesus, Cambridge Latin
Persa (play) Plautus 1583 St. John's, Cambridge Latin
Hippolytus Seneca the younger (with additional scenes by Gager) 1591-2 Christ Church, Oxford Latin

[19]

Neo-Latin/English drama performed[edit]

Neo-Latin or New Latin dramas as they may also be referred to, were plays written in Latin by students and professors at Oxford, Cambridge, and the Inns of Court. Subject matter ranged from religious, to satirical, to mythological.[20] Eventually these original plays began to be written in English, preparing the way for the English drama of the Elizabethan Age.[21]

Play Playwright Date Performed Location of Performance Language
Microcosmus T. Artour 1520–32 St. John's, Cambridge Latin
Mundas Plumbeus T. Artour 1520–32 St. John's, Cambridge Latin
Piscator siue Fraus Illusa J. Hoker 1535–43 Magdalen, Oxford Latin
Thersites Anon. 1537 Magdalen, Oxford English
Christus Rediuiuus Nicholas Grimald 1540 Brasenose, Oxford Latin
Christus Nascens Nicholas Grimald 1540- Merton or Christ Chrich, Oxford Latin
Protomartyr Nicholas Grimald 1540- Merton or Christ Church, Oxford Latin
Fama Nicholas Grimald 1540- Merton or Christ Church, Oxford Latin
Athanasius siue infamia Nicholas Grimald 1540- Merton or Christ Church, Oxford Latin
Troilus Nicholas Grimald 1540- Merton or Christ Church, Oxford English
De puerorum in musicis institutione Nicholas Grimald 1540- Merton or Christ Church, Oxford English
Absalon T. Watson c. 1540 St. John's, Cambridge Latin
dialogus R. Textor 1543 Queens', Cambridge Latin
Pammachius T. Kirchmayer 1545 Christ's, Cambridge Latin
Archiproheta Nicholas Grimald 1546-7 Christ Church, Oxford Latin
Heli H. Ziegler 1547-8 Queens', Cambridge Latin
Grammer Gurtons Nedle undetermined 1550–60 Christ's, Cambridge English
Strylius Nicholas Robinson (bishop) 1552-3 Queens', Cambridge Latin
A lernyd tragedy Anon. 1553-6 New College, Oxford Latin
de crumena perdita Anon. 1554-5 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
both the English plaies Anon. 1559–60 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Sapientia Solomonis Sixt Birck 1559–60 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Acolastus Wilhelm Gnapheus 1560-1 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
John babtiste George Buchanan 1562-3 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Christus Triumphans J. Foxe 1562-3 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Dido E. Haliwell 1564 King's, Cambridge Latin
Ezechias Nicholas Udall 1564 King's, Cambridge English
A burlesque on the Romanist bishops Anon. 1564 At Hinchinbrook, Cambridge English
Philanira C. Roilletus 1564-5 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Asotus Macropedius 1565-6 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Crumenaria Anon. 1565-6 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Marcus Geminus Anon. 1566 Christ Church, Oxford Latin
Palamon and Arcyte Parts 1 and 2 Richard Edwardes 1566 Christ Church, Oxford Latin
Progne James Calfhill 1566 Christ Church, Oxford Latin
Iephthes J. Christopherson 1566-7 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Wylie Beguylie Anon. 1566-7 Merton, Oxford English
Damon and Pythias (play) Richard Edwardes 1567-8 Merton, Oxford English
The Destruction of Thebes Anon. 1569 Christ Church, Oxford Latin
Hymenaeus Abraham Fraunce or H. Hickman c. 1578-9 St. John's, Cambridge Latin
Victoria Abraham Fraunce 1579–83 St. John's, Cambridge Latin
Richardus Tertius Thomas Legge 1579–80 St. John's, Cambridge Latin
The Destruction of Jerusalem Thomas Legge 1580–98 Caius, Cambridge Latin
Pendantius A. Wingfield 1580-1 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Puer vapulans Anon. 1581-2 Jesus, Cambridge Latin
Supposes G. Gascoigne 1581-2 Trinity, Oxford English
Caesar Interfectus R. Eedes 1581-2 Christ Church, Oxford Latin
Meleager W. Gager 1581-2 Christ Church, Oxford Latin
Bellum Grammaticale Leonard Hutten c. 1582 Christ Church, Oxford Latin
Comedy satirizing the Mayor of Cambridge T. Mudde 1582-3 Pembroke, Oxford English
Riuales W. Gager 1583 Christ Church, Oxford Latin
Dido W. Gager 1583 Christ Church, Oxford Latin
Meleager W. Gager 1584-5 Christ Church, Oxford Latin
Tarrarantantara turba trigonum Tri-Harueyorum Anon. 1585-6 Clare Hall, Cambridge Latin
Duns furens Anon. 1585-6 Peterhouse, Cambridge Latin
Terminus et non terminus Thomas Nashe and other student c. 1586 St. John's, Cambridge Latin
Octavia pseudo-Senecan 1588 Christ Church, Oxford Latin
Vlysses Redux W. Gager 1591-2 Christ Church, Oxford Latin
Bellum Grammaticale Leonard Hutten 1592 Christ Church, Oxford Latin
Roxana W. Alabaster c. 1592 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Caesars Reuenge Anon. c. 1594 Trinity, Oxford Latin
Laelia Anon. 1594-5 Queens', Cambridge Latin
Siluanus Anon. 1596-7 St. John's, Cambridge Latin
Hispanus Anon. 1596-7 St. John's, Cambridge Latin
Machiauellus Anon. 1597 St. John's, Cambridge Latin
The Pilgrimage to Parnassus Parnassus plays Anon. 1598 St. John's, Cambridge English
Leander W. Hawkesworth 1598-9 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Club Law G. Ruggle 1599–1600 Clare Hall, Cambridge English
The Return from Parnassus Part I Parnassus plays Anon. 1601 St. John's, Cambridge English
The Return from Parnassus Part II Parnassus plays Anon. 1602 St. John's, Cambridge English
Narcissus Anon. 1602-3 St. John's, Oxford English
Leander W. Hawkesworth 1602-3 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Labyrinthus W. Hawkesworth 1602-3 Trinity, Cambridge Latin
Nero M. Gwynne 1602-3 St. John's, Oxford Latin

[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Boas, Fredrick (1966). University Drama in the Tudor Age. New York: Benjamin Blom Inc. pp. 16–19.
  2. ^ Leicester, Bradner (1957). "The Latin Drama of the Renaissance (1340–1640)". Studies in the Renaissance. 4: 31–54. doi:10.2307/2857139. JSTOR 2857139.
  3. ^ Brooke, Tucker (December 1946). "Latin Drama in Renaissance England". ELH. 13 (4): 233–240. doi:10.2307/2871446. JSTOR 2871446.
  4. ^ Robertson, Roderick (March 1969). "Oxford Theatre in Tudor Times". Educational Theatre Journal. 21 (1): 41–2. doi:10.2307/3205776. JSTOR 3205776.
  5. ^ Nelson, Alan H. (2009). "Emulating Royalty: Cambridge, Oxford, and the Inns of Court". Shakespeare Studies. 37: 67–76. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  6. ^ Robertson, Roderick (March 1969). "Oxford Theatre in Tudor Times". Educational Theatre Journal. 21 (1): 4–46. doi:10.2307/3205776. JSTOR 3205776.
  7. ^ Robertson, Roderick (March 1969). "Oxford Theatre in Tudor Times". Educational Theatre Journal. 21 (1): 47. doi:10.2307/3205776. JSTOR 3205776.
  8. ^ Brooke, Tucker (December 1946). "Latin Drama in Renaissance England". ELH. 13 (4): 234. doi:10.2307/2871446. JSTOR 2871446.
  9. ^ Greenwood, David (December 1964). "The Staging of Neo-Latin Plays in Sixteenth Century England". Educational Theatre Journal. 16 (4): 323. doi:10.2307/3204572. JSTOR 3204572.
  10. ^ Brooke, Tucker (December 1946). "Latin Drama in Renaissance England". ELH. 13 (4): 323. doi:10.2307/2871446. JSTOR 2871446.
  11. ^ Billington, Sandra (February 1978). "Sixteenth-Century Drama in St. John's College, Cambridge". The Review of English Studies. New Series. 29 (113): 8–9. doi:10.1093/res/xxix.113.1. JSTOR 514357.
  12. ^ Nelson, Alan H. (2009). "Emulating Royalty: Cambridge, Oxford, and the Inns of Court". Shakespeare Studies. 37: 67–76. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  13. ^ Prest, Wilfrid R. (1972). The Inns of Court under Elizabeth I and the Early Stuarts 1590–1640. London: Longman. ISBN 0-582-50831-2.
  14. ^ Green, A. Wigfall (1931). The Inns of Court and Early English Drama. New York: Benjamin Blom.
  15. ^ Nelson, Alan H. (2009). "Emulating Royalty: Cambridge, Oxford, and the Inns of Court". Shakespeare Studies. 37: 67–76. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  16. ^ Green, A. Wigfall (1931). The Inns of Court and Early English Drama. New York: Benjamin Blom.
  17. ^ Prest, Wilfrid R. (1972). The Inns of Court under Elizabeth I and the Early Stuarts 1590–1640. London: Longman. ISBN 0-582-50831-2.
  18. ^ Nelson, Alan H. (2009). "Emulating Royalty: Cambridge, Oxford, and the Inns of Court". Shakespeare Studies. 37: 67–76. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  19. ^ Boas, Fredrick (1966). University Drama in the Tudor Age. New York: Benjamin Blom Inc.
  20. ^ Boas, Fredrick (1966). University Drama in the Tudor Age. New York: Benjamin Blom Inc. pp. 16–19.
  21. ^ Brooke, Tucker (December 1946). "Latin Drama in Renaissance England". ELH. 13 (4): 233–240. doi:10.2307/2871446. JSTOR 2871446.
  22. ^ Boas, Fredrick (1966). University Drama in the Tudor Age. New York: Benjamin Blom Inc.